Decatur County students learn about milk on World School Milk Day

Published 6:37 pm Friday, September 30, 2016

psl_0014Where does milk come from in Georgia?

There are 83,000 dairy cows in the state spanning across 220 farms, one of which is right here in Decatur County at Providence Dairy.

Dairy Farmer Paul Johnson brought a week old calf to Hutto Middle School Wednesday for World School Milk Day, an event to teach students how milk gets from a cow to their lunch tray and the importance of including the nutrient-packed drink with all their meals.

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“Most people think their food comes from a grocery store,” said Johnson of Providence Dairy. “I think milk is the most wholesome beverage out there. With the trend to counteract obesity, research has shown that milk is far better in reducing obesity than flavored or sugary drinks.”

Milk provides nine essential nutrients—calcium, potassium, phosphorous, protein, vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin—making it one of the healthiest beverages for a growing body. Research has shown students who drink milk at school are more likely to meet their daily nutrient needs.

“It is a nutrient powerhouse,” said Julie Wilkinson, the Sr. Manager of School and Health Wellness at the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. “All of that is what children need every day, three times a day. That’s why we say milk at every meal, and water in between. Milk provides that package for growing kids and growing bones.”

World School Milk Day was started 17 years ago to celebrate school milk on the tray, who produces it and why it’s an important part of a student’s diet. The day is celebrated in more than 40 different countries around the world.

HMS students were shown displays on the nine nutrients milk provides and the dairy process. Cow costumes were also sported by some students to celebrate the event.

Johnson brought up other milk-like products, such as almond milk, and argued that there were better ways to drink lactose-free milk if somebody is lactose-intolerant.

“As a direct competitor to the non-dairy milks like the almond beverages—as we call them, the nut milks—we feel like we have nature’s complete food, and milk should taste like milk, and something from almonds is not milk.”

Facts about dairy:

• Dairy foods are important for students’ growing bones, teeth and overall health.

• Flavored milk contains the same important vitamins and minerals as white milk.

• Milk ranks among the top sources of protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin A in youth diets. Milk protein is a high-quality protein containing all the essential amino acids the body needs.

• Studies show children who drink flavored milk drink more milk overall, meet more of their nutrient needs, do not consume more added sugar, fat or calories, and are not heavier than non-milk drinkers. Additionally, children who drink milk drink fewer sugary sodas and fruit drinks and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight compared to children who drink little or no milk.

• Students drink more milk when schools offer it in various flavors.

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